German GP Paddock Notebook – Friday

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Friday at Hockenheim was the first chance we got to see the drivers out on track as free practices one and two took place. Once again, the weather was glorious as hot sunshine beat down on the tarmac, making conditions perfect for running.

Rather predictably, Mercedes dominated proceedings once again, securing a one-two finish in both sessions. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg shared top spot, and had a net time of just 0.041 seconds separating them across the two sessions. Be assured that there will be another enthralling battle between the two on CNBC this Sunday from 7:30am ET.

In the paddock, the journalists and team members were doing their best to keep cool, with the ice cream at Lotus proving to be particularly popular. No word if Kimi got around to nabbing one, though…

Here’s the latest paddock round-up from Hockenheim.

SESSION REPORTS

  • First practice at Hockenheim saw Nico Rosberg make a good start to his home grand prix weekend. The German driver edged out Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets, with Fernando Alonso finishing third.
  • Hamilton redressed the balance in FP2, though, to finish fastest ahead of Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi had a firey moment, but took inspiration from Taki Inoue to use a fire extinguisher and put out the small blaze on his car.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Firstly, I must apologise for yet another FRIC pun. However, it certainly has been a topic of debate at Hockenheim this weekend following the FIA’s decision to ban the system from the cars on the grid.

Most of the drivers we spoke to yesterday said that it would make little to no difference, but both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg appeared to notice a bit more of a detrimental difference today. Red Bull certainly looks to have made a step forwards, but we shouldn’t get too carried away: Mercedes’ long run times are still miles ahead of everyone else.

The battle for the final podium position does appear to be wide open. Red Bull is leading by a nose, but with Ferrari, McLaren and Williams all showing good signs of pace this weekend, we could see quite an interesting battle to be ‘best of the rest’. McLaren has been particularly impressive, running with parts that were due to only arrive in Hungary, and both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen will be hoping for a solid result this weekend.

Further back, there was yet more disappointment for Caterham. One journalist in the paddock compared its recent form to that of the now-defunct HRT during its final few months of activity. Both Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi hit trouble during FP2, with a fire on the latter’s car ending his session early.

The team principals’ press conference was a bit of a mixed bag today. Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said that the test of the 18-inch F1 tires had been a success at Silverstone last week, although he was uneasy about the possibility of a tire war in F1. Christijan Albers made his first appearance as Caterham team principal following a crazy few weeks for the backmarker team, and didn’t show a great deal of confidence in the current driver line-up. That said, it’s difficult to see who could replace either Kobayashi or Ericsson given that Carlos Sainz Jr. has been told to forget about F1 for 2014 and to instead focus on his World Series by Renault campaign.

We’ll be back with more from the paddock tomorrow.

German GP TV Times – Saturday 19th July

Free Practice 3: Live Extra 5am ET
Qualifying: CNBC 8am ET

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)